The San Francisco 49ers training camp thus far can be divided into two parts. Before and after the Tuesday off-day. It sounds like this is particularly applicable to rookie running back Joe Williams. The 49ers fourth round pick was a bit sluggish the first four days, but the past couple days has come on strong according to practice reports.
Someone asked Kyle Shanahan about Williams’ improved play, and Shanahan is seeing it as well.
“Yeah, I thought he had his best day yesterday and then it seemed like today was better than that. So, I thought he’s put two good practices in a row. It takes time with some of these guys, by no means has he arrived with two good practices. That’s why I try not to jump to too many conclusions after each practice. Especially with the younger guys, they’ve got to learn the speed of the game, how to practice. A lot of these guys haven’t hit like that in practice, some guys don’t know how to practice without pads which was more OTAs and earlier on. Joe’s, he got a couple good looks yesterday, which sometimes that’s what they need to spring a little bit of confidence. We’re always hoping it will click because we know he’s got some ability.”
Williams spoke to the media on Friday, and acknowledged he is growing much more comfortable with the scheme. He said that he is getting a better understanding of the scheme and feeling more comfortable after getting his feet wet to start camp. He acknowledges he has to keep improving, and expects running backs coach Bobby Turner to get on him in the film room for some missed assignments.
Williams acknowledged seeing his struggles, but also said Turner talked to him before they went into their off-day.
“I mean I saw it in myself, and coach Bobby T had talked to me, as I wanted him to, and I told him to keep coaching me. Just keep staying on me. He’s been that type of positive figure since I came in before the draft. It’s a big reason I was so happy to be under his wing. He’s gonna be on me for as long I’ll be here, so I’m just glad that he was able to still see it in me and be positive so I can keep going out there.”
There has been some talk that Williams came into the offseason workout program a bit out of shape, and he said that was very true. His experience was similar to what we often hear about rookies. He thought he was in shape from his workouts getting ready for the Combine and his Pro Day, but there is so much more to getting into football shape. At the end of minicamp, Williams developed a plan with Shanahan, Turner, and strength coach Ray Wright. He stayed at the facility throughout the offseason leading up to camp, and feels like he is in much better shape.